As 3D printers are becoming increasingly common here the West, its sometimes easy to forget that not everyone in the world has the opportunity to gain access to desktop manufacturing. That’s somewhat ironic as well, for while we here in the west generally use 3D printers to make fun, but largely useless objects, 3D printer technology could genuinely improve the lives of people in developing countries. Just look at projects that seek to 3D print houses in slum regions or 3D printed prosthetics in war-torn countries; these emphasize the fact that this technology could not only be an excellent small business opportunity in struggling economies, but it can also be used to significantly improve living conditions.
We were therefore very interested to learn of the endeavors of the young entrepreneur and student Farrukh Bhabha, who recently started his very own 3D printing company Print 3D Pakistan. His goal? To make 3D printing technology available throughout Pakistani society. While his company is only a nine months old, the ambitious Farrukh is already working on releasing a self-designed, made-in-Pakistan 3D printer that is up to four times cheaper to make than western alternatives. He has already won a national design award for his efforts, and has now joined forces with the Microsoft Office in Karachi to expand 3D printing technology throughout his home country.
Fortunately, the only 23-year-old Farrukh (who is currently still a student of Computer Science at the SZABIST University) was happy to talk to 3ders.org about his mission. As he explained to us, he only recently began dabbling with 3D printers himself. “The journey began when I was an intern at an institution that worked with 3D printers. I learnt everything there was to know about 3D printing technology. My learning process revealed that Pakistan was an untapped region as far as 3D printing was concerned while other countries were making history with the technology,’ he explained. ‘That was my inspiration. To put Pakistan on the map for 3D printing technology.”
Farrukh therefore decided to construct his very own 3D printer as a final project at university, which proved to be such an affordable and functional model that he has since created two more additions. The latest model is a flashy looking Delta 3D printer with a very tall build platform that, as Farrukh assures us, can compete with any western-made product. As he told 3ders.org, “that was my step in the world of 3D Printers. I am thankful to Almighty Allah and my Parents to provide me such segments of limitless possibilities where I can actually do stuff which is effective in every way.”
Since building that initial 3D printer and starting his business, things have been moving very quickly for Farrukh and for Print 3D Pakistan. Orders for 3D printed objects have been flooding in; the object counter on his website has already surpassed the 350 mark. It has even led him to hire his first two employees: overall supervisor Bilal Pabal and designer Jahanzaib Naviwala, while there are already plans to increase that number. As Farrukh told us, “My parents supported me in funds till now, but now we are earning and getting revenue by providing 3D Printing service and providing 3D Printing workshops in Pakistan so we are using our money and enhancing our business more to capture 3D Printing market.”
Farrukh Bhabha (right) and Bilal Pabal (left) being interviewed for Dawn News.
In December 2014, the trio of entrepreneurs even turned heads at start-up competition at the SOFTCOM 14 convention at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan University, taking home the first rpize and being named the most unique and important entry.
About his victory, Farrukh said the following. “We participated in SOFTCOM 14 held at Ghulam Ishaq Khan University at Swabi, Topi, in which registered our team in Start-up competition category. There were around 8 teams representing different universities. We then successfully presented our idea, business model, vision and mission, future plans and so on to the judges (a panel put together by Microsoft Islamabad). Then in second round they further asked about the customer segments, revenue stream, customers we catered to untill now and so on. Our start-up won the first position in the startup competition and the judges gave us the trophy and certificates for merit.”
Since then, they have been picking up steam. ‘Due to this exposure, we were also offered an ‘Incubation Opportunity’ from the Microsoft Innovation Center, Karachi, where we can use Microsoft resource. They will also help us to grow our market and they will provide even provide us with mentors that will help us to enhance our business. We accepted this great opportunity and we are currently settled at Microsoft Innovation center,” Farrukh said.
The future is thus looking very bright for this ambitious Pakistani 3D printing start-up. They are currently offering 3D printing services while working on their own software interface and a mobile app for controlling their 3D printer model. There are even plans for making a 3D Scanner in collaboration with the Microsoft Innovation Center. But most importantly: “We are planning to make an assembly line where we can make quality 3D Printers and provide them to the customers in Pakistan.” And with the speed at which things are moving, we would not be at all surprised to hear a lot more about Print 3D Pakistan in the near future.